My first experience with Fairy Gardens was when I was in elementary school. My classmates and I did not know what we were making though, as our inspiration came from our reading The Littles. It was on our recesses that we went out to the baseball diamond and decorated the backstop with dandelions and huts of grass, hoping that we would have visitors while we were doing math inside. The second experience I had was while volunteering at the Eaton County Library. As a youth activity, the coordinator had soil, moss, succulents, sculptures and acorns to decorate small pots— making a lovely terrarium.
Fairy Gardens are full of variations. They can be large and elaborate, spread out across a backyard, and a complete world for little creatures. They could also be small and simple, as small as just a door at the base of a tree— moss and rocks leading up to it. And Fairy Gardens can be made by children— their imagination and creativity being important for the design— and adults just the same. Although they require creativity, they usually require little effort, as the plants normally used do not require much attention.
In preparation for writing this article, I decided to build my own Fairy Garden in my front yard for demonstration. First, I placed stepping-stones side-by-side. I then took small stones and made a pathway connecting the two and making a pathway to my tulip plant. Next, I lined the path leading to the tulips with dandelion heads, mosses, and yellow-flowered weeds. I finished the garden with a door constructed of a wooden border and an oval and flat stone, leaning against the tulip plant.
Mine is an example of a Fairy Garden that does not have any extra decorations. Stores have decorations such as clay doors, benches, fairies, and bridges. More elaborate gardens include motes and staircases for the mythical inhabitants. Some gardens have mosses and succulents that do not require much watering. Others use flowers that tower over their clay fairies like trees. If you do not have a spot in your yard that you want to plant your garden in, shallow pots work great— with the pots they are also easy to take care of in the colder months without having to deconstruct your garden. If you have children or grandchildren, you can start out without fairies and have them slowly populate your garden or start out by just showing evidence of visitors.
As children come closer to the end of the school year, this would be a great craft to get kids outside, exercise their imaginations, and learn about having a green thumb. This can even be a fun task for an adult with an artistic side who wants to get crafty outside. I myself had a fun time constructing my garden. Zoe Antel, 20, has found her developing Fairy Garden to be an outlet for her artistic personality. Zoe says of her motivations for her garden, “I think it would be cool to have a little garden for fairies to visit because on some level I think they’re real and it would be so cool if they came to use my garden.” I think that all of us can benefit from joining Zoe in embracing our inner child and developing our green thumbs this spring.